Tag Archives: Humber River

One side benefit of the leash free zone.

The new leash free zone has taken some of the pressure off the wild area. The evidence for this is the fact that the old path is quite overgrown.

The old path is visible as a mild depression in the undergrowth.

There is a path there somewhere.

The lack of dogs and humans is also helpful to new plantings that are part of the rehabilitation of the former staging area. The bags at the base of some of the trees are containers which allow water to be released slowly (I always wondered). The brand name is Tree Gator.

New plantings of trees and grass. Our plentiful rainfall this summer is helping. Let’s hope winter ice is kind.

In the meantime, work continues on re-lining the sewage pipes that run along the Humber. The project has blown past its announced completion date of July 2017.

This equipment fire across the river on July 9th may not have helped the project timeline.

March 2017 Construction Progress Report.

Sewer pipe linings awaiting placement.

Sewer pipe linings awaiting placement.

Work proceeds in full swing on the sewer relining project. Instead of replacing the sewers, new linings are being pushed and pulled to line the insides of the original pipe. Apparently this will allow a few more years before the old pipes need to be replaced. This means another 18 months of heavy slogging along the Humber valley.

Workers access the main sewer in preparation for re-lining.

Workers access the main sewer in preparation for re-lining.

Sewer-map

City of Toronto map showing the path of the sewer and its main access points.

The footbridge connecting Lions Park with Hickory Tree Road is almost complete and will make a difference to the many people on foot who move between Weston and Etobicoke. The new version is wider, all metal (except for railings and trim) and has viewing decks that will be useful during soccer games on the artificial turf below.

One of the decks of the new footbridge during construction.

One of the decks of the new footbridge during construction.

The new bridge shouldn’t require salt (the old wooden one was regularly salted in winter) and it will have bicycle troughs for walking bicycles up and down.

The leash free zone further down Raymore Park is taking shape. The surface has been laid and fencing is under way. The two areas for different sized dogs are becoming evident. This project should be ready by summer.

Panoramic view of the new area looking north. Click to zoom.

Panoramic view of the new area looking north. Click to zoom.

Finally, although the Humber River retaining wall was completed late last year, the staging area used to construct the project has been restored and now this blank canvas awaits re-planting, hopefully this spring.

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September 2016 Construction Progress Report.

The finished product - at this end anyway.

The finished product – at this end anyway.

The finished appearance of the retaining wall is now evident at its southern end with a green vegetative planting just starting to sprout on the slope at the top of the wall. Regardless, there’s still a long way to go. It also looks as if the homeowner with riparian rights has now wisely decided to take advantage of the opportunity and so construction has begun further upstream. The original intent was to construct the wall along the full length and that now seems to be the plan.

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A nice cross-section is visible from the northern end of the wall. (click to enlarge)

Astonishingly, even after all this effort, the work looks as if it’s only about 40% done and so there is a long, long way to go before this project can be signed off. The wall construction was originally scheduled for completion this past spring with brick removal from the access area and subsequent landscaping to take place this fall. Obviously, that ain’t gonna happen. My estimate at the current rate of construction is that they’ll be lucky to have the project completed and everything restored by the end of 2017. This seems to have been quite a miscalculation by the planners. The project was to cost a maximum of $250,000.

I’ll bet that marker was skated past months ago.

Not much progress

There seems to be little going on at the retaining wall site these days. It may have to do with negotiations ongoing with the owner at the north end of the wall. If the owner withholds permission for the wall to be completed on the end property, plans will need to be adjusted.

Old retaining wall blocks are stacked along the opposite shore.

Old retaining wall blocks are stacked along the opposite shore.

Part of the

The old retaining wall is being removed in preparation for a newer taller model.

Incidentally, the storm sewer pipe that is visible in the second image is one of hundreds that flow into the Humber. The structure above it may serve to prevent slope erosion.

Spring advances slowly.

An Asian ladybug checks out some fragrant Willow blossoms.

An Asian ladybug clambers over some fragrant willow flowers by the Humber in Raymore Park.

Cool weather continues to make spring a long season this year. The upside to this is the ability to watch plants come to life in slow motion.

Willow trees (Latin name, Salix) are common in Raymore Park and they are native to Canada. They love watery environments and are easily propagated. They can be seen planted throughout the park, although, like walnuts, they don’t need much encouragement. Their flowers are particularly fragrant and have a lilac type smell.

The ancient Greeks knew about the medicinal abilities of willow bark extract to cut pain and reduce a fever. Native Canadians also used it in the same way. Scientists in the 19th Century extracted a chemical, which they named salicin, from the bark and converted it to salicylic acid and later still, to acetylsalicylic acid. The drug in this form is still in wide use today and more commonly known as ASA or aspirin.

As for the Asian ladybug, this was introduced by farmers in the U.S. to fight aphids and they do that job very well. Unfortunately they are not as benign as our native ladybugs and tend to find crevices in homes as well as contaminate grapes used in wines. They have to a large extent displaced our native bug. One year at a Niagara winery I drank some red wine which was ‘flavour enhanced’ with large numbers of the creatures accidentally harvested with the grapes. They have an unforgettable and bitter taste! It didn’t seem to bother anyone else so I let it go. Canadians can be very polite and forgiving.

Wineries now take precautions not to harvest ladybugs along with their grapes.

Jane’s Walk tours old piggery

This is the same article that I wrote in WestonWeb, a blog with news about Weston. We covered ground on the opposite side of the river to Raymore Park moving up from Eglinton to the weir.

On Saturday, May 7, about 50 people took part in a Jane’s Walk to discover some Weston and Mount Dennis history.

The walk led by Mike Mattos featured guest segments from Alistair Jolly, an archaeologist with TRCA, Simon Chamberlain from MDCA and myself.

Alistair Jolly from TRCA with some artifacts discovered in the Toronto region.

Mike Mattos (L) listens to Alistair Jolly from TRCA with some artifacts discovered in the Toronto region.

A sample of the range of artifacts discovered around Toronto.

A sample of the range of artifacts discovered around Toronto.

After viewing some artifacts including clovis arrowheads, stone axes and clay pipes, we ventured under the Eglinton bridge at Scarlett Road.

Simon Chamberlain discusses the history of the area.

Simon Chamberlain discusses the history of the area.

A view of the graffiti adorning the walls of the Eglinton bridge over the Humber.

A view of the graffiti adorning the walls of the Eglinton bridge over the Humber.

Moving up the river from there Mike and Simon led the group to some interesting relics from the early years of West Park Hospital. Established in 1904, for patients suffering from tuberculosis it was then known as the Toronto Free Hospital for Consumptive Poor or the Weston Sanitarium. Since this was in the days before antibiotics, treatment consisted mainly of rest and fresh air. At the time, Toronto’s death toll from TB was considerable; something like 7 people a day. Even then, TB was known to be infectious and city workers fearing contagion refused to collect food waste from the hospital. As a result, the sanatarium set up a piggery and chicken operation on hospital grounds close to the Humber. The farm was self-sustaining and with 1000 hens and 50 pigs, there was no shortage of food. Pigs were slaughtered at the stockyards.

Water troughs for the pigs still remain.

Water troughs for the pigs still remain.

Antibiotics revolutionized treatment of TB and in 1954, the animals were swept away during Hurricane Hazel but evidence remains of the extensive farming operation that was operated by staff and patients.

By the river, there is a small informal pet cemetery that apparently has been used by local residents for years.

Those animals were loved.

An informal cat grave.

The last segment of the walk ended by the weir in Raymore Park and there was discussion of the effects of Hurricane Hazel on the area which led to the forerunner of today’s TRCA, the creation of many of Toronto’s parks and the preservation of this city’s famous ravines.

Another great walk; luckily we had no rain and as a bonus – mosquitoes haven’t emerged – yet!

Some Questions Answered

Work has resumed on the retaining wall and the mystery of the rope stretched across the river has been solved.

It's a lifeline.

It’s a lifeline.

It’s simply something to hang onto if a worker slips into the water accidentally.

Another question answered is what they are going to do with the old retaining wall. Answer: remove it. This week the southerly end of the old wall is being removed and workers are digging  to the bedrock to make a secure foundation for the new blocks.

Digging down to the bedrock for a solid foundation.

Digging down to the bedrock for a solid foundation.

Material being removed from the foundation of the new retaining wall.

Material being removed from the foundation of the new retaining wall.

According to a worker on the site, the work was delayed while trout were spawning but TRCA has given the project the go-ahead and construction has re-started. Apparently when the original wall was constructed, the same company simply accessed the far bank directly and never had to take all the precautions expected of projects on the river nowadays.

Another interesting item; the new wall may not extend to the northernmost point planned as the landowner above that section of wall is worried that the removal of the old blocks and subsequent digging may trigger further landslides. Since the resident in question has riparian rights which go down to the water, they have the right to withdraw consent to construct that last section of wall.

The worker allowed that the project may take until October to complete.